A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that lodges in the lungs meaning that blood can’t flow freely through the lungs. This prevents oxygen from reaching the lungs and the heart has to put more effort into pushing blood through the lungs.
A pulmonary embolism is a serious problem and many with pulmonary embolisms never get a diagnosis until the autopsy. Sudden collapse and death are often attributed to an embolism. Death can occur even without any warning symptoms. If you are diagnosed with a PE you are one of the lucky ones. Pulmonary embolism recovery can take a long time if you have had substantial damage to your lungs or heart.The tests I had to diagnose my PE
Pulmonary embolism can be difficult to diagnose so your doctor may order a series of tests to help find the cause of your symptoms.
Although the X-ray didn’t diagnose the pulmonary embolism, it did rule out other conditions.
The ventilation-perfusion scan (V/Q scan), uses small amounts of radioactive material to study airflow (ventilation) and blood flow (perfusion) in your lungs.
For the first part of the test, you inhale a small amount of radioactive material while a camera that’s able to detect radioactive substances takes pictures of the movement of air in your lungs. Then a small amount of radioactive material is injected into a vein in your arm, and pictures are taken of blood flow in the blood vessels of your lungs. Comparing the results of the two studies helps provide a more accurate diagnosis of pulmonary embolism than does either study alone.
D-dimer blood test
Having high levels of the clot-dissolving substance D dimer in your blood may suggest an increased likelihood of blood clots, although D-dimer levels may be elevated by other factors, including recent surgery which I’d why we couldn’t rely on it for me.
A noninvasive “sonar” test known as duplex venous ultrasonography (sometimes called duplex scan or compression ultrasonography) uses high-frequency sound waves to check for blood clots in your thigh veins. In this test, your doctor uses a wand-shaped device called a transducer to direct the sound waves to the veins being tested. These waves are then reflected back to the transducer and translated into a moving image by a computer. I’ve not had an ultrasound yet but I’m certainly keen to have one.Warfarin and vitamin K both regulate blood clots, with warfarin prolonging the process and vitamin K vital to the chemical process that causes clotting in the blood. Warfarin acts against vitamin K by increasing the time it takes for blood to clot. Patients generally receive a warning about the interaction between warfarin and vitamin K from doctors who prescribe the drug.
An anti-coagulant medication, Warfarin thins the blood. It is typically prescribed for patients at risk of clots blocking the flow of blood to the brain or heart. If warfarin and vitamin K are consumed together, it decreases the effectiveness of the drug. Doctors typically recommend patients using warfarin keep vitamin K levels consistent from day to day.
A spike of the vitamin might render warfarin useless. If vitamin K levels decrease sharply, the effects of warfarin could increase. Patients using this drug typically require testing of warfarin and vitamin K levels once a month to measure blood clotting times. If the levels of warfarin and vitamin K are off, medication or diet can be adjusted to achieve the desired balance. Alcohol and cranberry juice might also skew levels of warfarin and vitamin K in the blood.
Foods highest in vitamin K include cooked spinach, turnip greens, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, and mustard greens. Doctors advise no more than one serving a day of these vegetables. Other vegetables contain moderate levels of vitamin K, with three or less servings a day suggested. They include raw spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, romaine and green leaf lettuce, and raw turnip greens. Other foods contain smaller amounts of the nutrient, including coffee and tea which are consumed in massive doses in hospitals.
Warfarin and vitamin K imbalances are not the only concerns when taking this medication. People taking warfarin might bleed excessively from an accidental cut or injury because blood is thinned. They may also bruise easily and notice black stools from rectal bleeding. In rare cases, skin tissue becomes damaged, leading to gangrene and potential amputation of the affected body part.
This medication is often prescribed for people whose blood clots too easily. It might also be used by patients with prosthetic heart valves, which are prone to clogging. Others take the drug after a heart attack or open heart surgery as a preventative measure.
Physicians typically explain the effects of warfarin and vitamin K to patients and advise them about bleeding concerns. The medication should be avoided before any dental or medical procedure that could cause bleeding, including routine vaccinations. Warnings might be issued about dietary supplements containing vitamin K, and certain herbs that affect how the drug works.Blood is a complex fluid containing corpuscles (blood cells), with a specific gravity between 1.050 to 1.060 and is 5-6x more viscous than water.
It performs many functions;
Respiratory ~ Transportation of oxygen in the lungs to tissue whilst removing carbon dioxide from the tissue to the lungs.
Nutrition ~ Transportation of glucose, amino acids and fats to the tissues.
Excretion ~ Transportation of the byproducts of metabolism.
Hydration ~ The maintenance of tissue water content.
Temperature ~ Our body temperatures are in part regulated by the water within our blood.
Protection and Regulation ~ Various antibodies that form a defence mechanism are circulating, (or they should be) within our blood. This is also how are hormones circulate allowing our bodies to regulate and control every bodily function.Measuring Blood Clotting
INR stands for International Normalized Ratio. As its name suggests, one INR result can be compared to another INR result regardless of how or where the result was obtained. So, the INR is really just the standard unit used to report the result of a PT test.
There are a few things worth mentioning about the INR. First, an individual whose blood clots normally and who is not on anticoagulation should have an INR of approximately 1. The higher your INR is, the longer it takes your blood to clot. In other words, as the INR increases above a given level, the risk of bleeding and bleeding-related events increases. On the other hand, as the INR decreases below a given level, the risk of clotting events increases.
Due to my recent pulmonary embolism they have a goal of hitting a target INR of 2-3 for me to prevent further clotting. I don’t think I’m particularly at risk as I’d be more than happy to state that my clot was due to the immobility caused by my Achilles repair. However, I’m not in the position to argue.
I do think it will be a struggle to raise mine up from its current 1.5 (I’ve been 1.2, 1.4 and 1.4 over the previous 3 days). My body will recognise something is thinning the blood and come out fighting against the effects of these chemicals. It’s notoriously difficult to hit the targets that they want and medication levels are constantly adjusted to combat the bodies attempts at balance.
The other worrying factor is that the body works overtime attempting to counter the effects of the drugs. When you eventually come off the drugs for a period of time you may suffer a lower INR due to the body previously overcompensating. In my case I have no doubt my body will quickly regain balance but theirs a risk that it means the elderly or immobile will face a lifetime of drug management.
Don’t just sit there ignoring the fact that what you eat and drink effects your health. You can see how wonderfully complicated blood is and how it plays a part in every function of our bodies.
Look after yourselves.